News and Blog

The New Way to Pay Employees

You may be all-too-familiar with the process and time spent dealing with payroll and HR: emails, telephone calls, attachments, more emails to employees, setting up bank payments…the list goes on. Large businesses will have segregated duties, with an HR lead responsible for managing joiners and leavers and holiday requests, an Operations Manager for coordinating and communicating shifts, a Payroll Manager and a Financial Controller. For small-to-medium sized businesses, the responsibility often lies with the managing director. In this regard, there are some fantastic tools to make managing your team more pleasant and more efficient, including the new way to pay employees.

Paying salaries
The latest integration to the cloud payroll ecosystem automates the payment of staff salaries. Currently, we prepare a BACS payment file which many employers upload to their online banking facility for processing onwards payments. The latest payments platform goes a significant step further and allows us as your accountants to make payroll payments, linked to your payroll information, shortly after the payroll is approved, saving you precious time, removing manual processes, and eliminating costly errors. The seamless workflow is protected by two factor authentication and payments are processed through a highly secure and compliant network. This solution benefits all employers with a high headcount and who pay their staff via bank transfer.

Employer and Employee Portal
By integrating with our payroll software in the cloud, we can streamline the way you communicate payroll information to us, including hours worked, holiday days taken, bonuses or new starters. A browser- or app-based Employer Portal allows you to enter relevant information, store and organise documentation (including payroll reports which we prepare) and make final approvals. We can email your employees their payslips directly, or even grant them access to the Employee Portal, where they can retrieve payslips (including past payslips), submit holiday requests, enter starter data…etc. This functionality benefits businesses in all sectors, as it is centred around improving the information flow between the employer, the employees and the accountant.

Rota Management
If your business requires organising shift patterns for your staff, we can help you implement software which helps you schedule rotas, optimise wage spend, record attendance and approve timesheets for payroll. Your employees would receive pop-up notifications and would log their check-in and check-out times in the app. The app can then produce weekly reports showing hours worked and wages due. There are also built in features such as overtime pay and GPS, which would ensure that employees can only log in when actually present. We have found this software to be particularly helpfuly for hospitality businesses and beauty salons.

How much does it all cost?
The payment integration and cloud hosting is priced based on the number of active employees, and the efficiency saving will tend to outweigh the fee for a payroll with at least 4 employees.

Whether you’re an existing client or don’t yet use our services, we would be pleased to help you. Contact Mouktaris & Co Chartered Accountants for expert advice or click here to subscribe to our Newsletter.

Spring Budget 2021

Facing an almost empty House of Commons yesterday lunch-time (television viewing numbers yet to be announced!), the Chancellor presented his long-awaited second full Budget.

The challenge the chancellor faced was double edged: begin to recoup the £407bn state bill for tackling the pandemic (comparable to the two world wars), without choking the economy just as the cogs might begin to turn.

The headline was the only apparent increase in tax rates, being the raise of the Corporation Tax rate from 19% to 25% for companies with profits over £250,000, with effect from 1 April 2023. The 19% rate is retained for trading and (most) property investment companies with profits up to £50,000 – but even for those companies, once profits exceed £50,000, a tapered rate will be introduced until profits reach the £250,000 limit. To avoid avoidance, profits between group companies under common control are proportionately reduced, akin to the mechanisms prior to Budget 2015.

The effect will mainly hit larger companies, but the change will also discourage the incorporation of profitable sole trades or partnerships. No reduction of the dividend tax rates to reflect the additional underlying Corporation Tax is afforded, meaning that the effective overall rate of tax on profits earned in a company and extracted by way of dividend could now be as high as 54.5% in some circumstances, though more commonly 49.4% (for a higher-rate taxpayer).

Other taxes were increased by stealth – that is to say, in an indirect manner. Allowances and tax bands have been increasing over the past several years to reflect inflation, however yesterday the Chancellor gleamed when he announced the removal of indexation and fixing of allowances, tax bands, or both for the next five years. This applies to the following, with the effect of dragging taxpayers to higher tax brackets as they get richer – more commonly known as “fiscal drag”:

  • Income Tax personal allowance
  • Income Tax Basic and Higher Rate bands
  • NIC upper earnings and upper profits limits
  • Pension Lifetime Allowance
  • Inheritance Tax Nil Rate Band
  • Capital Gains Tax annual exempt amount

Other rules did lend themselves to favouring trading businesses, be they companies or individuals:

  • The rules on setting trading losses against general income are loosened, with the carry-back period extended to three years (from the current one year). The legislation has not been published, but for companies, the relief applies to losses of accounting periods ending between 1 April 2020 and 31 March 2022. For individuals, the relief applies to losses of the tax years 2020/21 and 2021/22, with the £2m loss cap applying ‘per individual’ not ‘per business’ – this may be especially relevant to partnerships or LLPs.
  • Capital expenditure incurred by a company (note, only a company) is incentivised – companies can now claim “super deduction” capital allowances of 130% of expenditure on plant and machinery that would ordinarily be relieved at 18% per annum (and 50% on plant that would otherwise be relieved at 6% per annum). The relief applies to expenditure incurred from 1 April 2021 (but not if the expenditure was already contracted before 3 March 2021). Scrupulous small business owners will note that this saving represents only 30% on capital expenditure that is already being relieved at 100% under the Annual investment allowance, subject to the annual cap.

The wider economy

  • Mr Sunak maintained the exemption from stamp duty land tax (SDLT) on the first £500,000 of residential property value to 30 June 2021. This will be replaced by a £250,000 exemption until 30 September 2021. As a reminder, the 2% surcharge for non-resident purchasers of residential property in England or Northern Ireland applies from 1 April 2021, meaning that foreign buyers may end up paying an additional 5% SDLT if they also own another home anywhere in the world.
  • In a further strain to avoid pulling the rug from under the housing market, Mr Sunak also confirmed the introduction of a mortgage guarantee scheme with deposits of just 5%, slogan-ned ‘Turning “generation rent” into “generation buy”‘.
  • The coronavirus job retention scheme (CJRS) will be extended in full until 30 June 2021 and will be phased out by September 2021, with employers required to contribute from July 2021.
  • The self-employed income support scheme (SEISS) will be extended at its current level with a fourth grant covering the period February to April. A fifth grant will cover the period May to September, but this will be at a lower level for those who have seen less than a 30% drop in turnover. The Chancellor’s team may be beady-eyed with income and profits reported in Tax Returns, with the announced creation of an HMRC ‘taskforce’ to crack down on those defrauding support schemes introduced to combat the economic impact of Covid-19.
  • The business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses will be extended until June, with a 75% discount thereafter. Various restart grants will be made available to retail and hospitality, to be administered by local councils.
  • Lower VAT rate for hospitality firms is to be maintained at the 5% rate until September.
  • Eight new English freeports have been announced across the UK, with the aim of encouraging commerce and inwards investment using generous and wide-reaching tax breaks.

Whether you’re an existing client or don’t yet use our services, we would be pleased to help you. Contact Mouktaris & Co Chartered Accountants for expert advice or click here to subscribe to our Newsletter. Budget Highlights and tax data following Budget 2021 can be viewed on our website here.

Hair Salon Business Model: which style suits you?

As a hair salon or barber shop owner, you aim to run your business in a way that maximises revenue, reduces costs, and ensures a good working relationship with your staff and customers. It is important to choose the right model that suits your business needs from the outset. We discuss below three different models of business:

  1. Full operation, whilst operating:
    1. a PAYE scheme
    2. a self-employed model for hairdressers
  2. Chair rental
    1. charging a fixed weekly rent to barbers
    2. charging a percentage of the chair’s takings
    3. a combination of a and b
  3. Shop rental

Full Operation

Full operation is the most involved and therefore carries the capacity for highest profits. This model also incurs the highest administrative costs, both in terms of money and time, including:

  1. Paying over 20% VAT on your sales if turnover exceeds £85,000
  2. Maintaining a payroll service to your staff
  3. Carrying out senior management responsibilities

Self-employed basis
As senior manager, you could continue operating the business, whilst moving some of your staff to a self-employed basis. The benefit of transitioning could save money in the following ways:

  1. No legal obligation to pay for sickness, maternity or holiday
  2. You avoid paying Employer’s national insurance
  3. There is no need to worry about auto enrolment pensions or make contributions

Should you pursue this model, it would be worthwhile implementing a service contract with the freelancers, to ensure that both parties’ expectations are understood. Of course, the risk of a barber turning up late, taking a day off or poaching clients for their own business remains. You should take on full advice, including with respect to legislation around self-employment.

Internal Controls
If you are not present at the salons throughout the day, it would be worthwhile implementing Internal Controls. These should be considered especially if you will continue to operate the salons, or even if you plan to sub-let at a variable rate dependent on performance. Internal Controls for cash sales and collections include:

  • Reconciling till rolls to cash collections each day.
  • Reconciling cash collections with banking and sales records each day.
  • Restricting the receipt of cash and the recording of sales by making sure that only one person is in charge of the cash register.

Internal Controls to accurately track employee time should be considered if you are paying your staff per hour, either as employees or subcontractors. To help you accurately monitor and control employee timesheets, we have helped our clients implement an app-based time management software which you or your management could use to organise rotas.

Chair rental

There are three models to renting out chairs:

  1. Charging a fixed weekly rent to the freelancer
  2. Charging a percentage of the chair’s takings
  3. A combination of a and b

With option 1, if there is a high volume of customers for a particular chair you will lose out on sales as the freelancer will take all of the earnings. Option 2 avoids this problem, however if the freelancer doesn’t turn up for work then you lose out on rental income compared to the first model. A combination of the two methods is arguably the best way forward, however it would require monitoring of sales figures. The incentive agreement should be set at a level where the freelancers have the potential to make more money than they currently do.

You would need to charge VAT on rental income should your turnover exceed £85,000. A non-VAT registered freelancer would then suffer the VAT. Of course, the barber may also seek VAT registration, depending on his or her particular circumstances.

Compared to the full operation model with staff there will be no wages, national insurance and pensions costs however sales will be limited as per your agreement with the freelancers. Should you pursue this model, it would be worthwhile:

  • implementing a service contract with the freelancer. It would be important to draft strong payment terms to avoid the risk of arrears.
  • implementing an EPOS till system to give you full visibility of sales (important with incentive agreements).
  • considering whether you would allow freelancers to sell their own products, or take a commission from your sales.

An additional risk compared to an employee-based model is that freelance workers may come and go, thereby requiring more management time to maintain occupancy.

Shop rental

This option is the least involved. If you do not foresee a pick-up in footfall in your salon, you may consider subletting your salon and collecting the passive income. You should bear the following points in mind:

  • First check whether your lease allows you to effectively sub-let the premises.
  • Should turnover increase more than you anticipate, you will not be sharing in the upside.
  • Should you eventually sell the business, your eligibility to pay the Entrepreneurs’ Relief rate of CGT of 10% will be in jeopardy.

Summary

  • The full operation model has the greatest potential for maximising profitability but carries the highest level of administrative costs.
  • Internal controls regarding hours worked and wages paid are paramount, especially if you will continue to be directly involved in the full operation of the business.
  • If you decide to base your business model around working with freelancers, it is important that both parties’ duties are understood (owner and freelancers). A service contract between parties is key.
  • If the chair rental model is pursued you will need to charge VAT if rental income exceeded £85,000, which a freelancer could then suffer.
  • The chair rental model is the most cost-effective option, but you risk losing out on revenue if there is a high level of footfall.

Whether you’re an existing client or don’t yet use our services, we would be pleased to help you. Contact Mouktaris & Co Chartered Accountants for expert advice or click here to subscribe to our Newsletter.

The Taxation of Inter-company Loans

Under the right circumstances, which can of course be shaped, inter-company loans are an effective means of funding further profit or not-for-profit motives. Consider Mr Trader, who is director and sole shareholder of Company T, a trading company. Company T has grown with accumulated profits in excess of £2m, matched by substantial cash balances. Mr Trader has decided to set up a not-for-profit organisation, ReMobly Ltd, aimed at rehabilitating injured athletes back into competitive sport. In addition to Mr Trader, two other directors will be appointed to the board of ReMobly Ltd and each of the three persons will own 33% of the ReMobly Ltd share capital.

ReMobly Ltd is seeking to raise capital to begin its operations and Mr Trader is considering the most apt means of lending money to the not-for-profit organisation. There are three issues which spring to mind…

Loans to participators
In view of the large cash balances that have accumulated in the company, Mr Trader considers lending money from Company T to ReMobly Ltd. CTA10/S455 applies to loans/advances made by a close company to its participator, or an associate of its participator. Broadly, where a close company makes any loan to an individual who is a participator (or an associate of a participator) in the close company, then the close company is due to pay tax under CTA10/S455. The not-for-profit is not classed as an associate of Company T (so far as section 448-449 of Part 10 of the Corporation Tax Act 2010 is concerned), therefore the loan can be made without corporation tax implications.

Loan write off
There is a possibility that the future activities of ReMobly Ltd will be inadequate to allow for the repayment of the loan made by Company T, under the terms of the loan agreement. If both parties are companies and both are found to be under the common control of another person, company or individual, at any time in the accounting period, then no bad debt relief will be available on the release of the loan, and no taxable credit will arise to the company whose indebtedness is forgiven. Company T and ReMobly Ltd are not under the common control of another person and are therefore not considered to be connected. The debit for the loan write off will be allowable for Company T (most likely as a non-trade loan relationship deficit). The corollary is that a taxable credit will arise to the not-for-profit.

Anti-avoidance
The main anti-avoidance rule will also need to be considered in FA 1996, Sch 9 para 13, the ‘unallowable purposes’ rule. This will deny relief for so much of a debit where the loan or part of the loan is attributable to an unallowable purpose. An unallowable purpose is any purpose which is not amongst the business or other commercial purposes of the company, Company T. If taken literally, this would seem to be cast fairly widely. In general however, if the loan relationship rules are seen to be fairly applied to both parties, HMRC seem content in leaving matters undisturbed.

Whether you’re an existing client or don’t yet use our services, we would be pleased to help you. Contact Mouktaris & Co Chartered Accountants for expert advice or click here to subscribe to our Newsletter.

EIS Tax Relief for Joint Investment

The following scenario often arises with our client Mr Investor, who is considering investing in an early-stage business. Wonderful Ltd is an established FinTech company which has developed a track record of an established user base, consistent revenue figures and other key performance indicators. Wonderful Ltd is now seeking to raise Series A funding of £1.5 million in order to further optimize its user base and product offerings. Mr Investor has received an Investment Memorandum for the funding round and is considering allocating a small proportion of his investment portfolio. Mr Investor has asked his accountant to run through the Investment Memorandum with him and has identified five reasons why he wishes to invest. Being an early-stage business, Mr Investor acknowledges that the investment is inherently high-risk, but he really believes in the founder Mrs Wonderful, who attended the same university. The generous Enterprise Investment Scheme (EIS) tax breaks “cushion” the risk element of the investment (see below) but nonetheless, the minimum investment of £75,000 is punchy for Mr Investor.

Mr Investor has an idea. Can he pool together capital from two other friends in order to meet the £75,000 minimum investment? Will each investor still be eligible for the EIS tax relief for joint investment?

Joint Investment – A Problem Shared is a Problem Halved

In short, there is a way to pool funds in order to meet one investment clip of £75k. EIS relief is available for an individual who makes the subscription on his or her own behalf, with two notable exceptions:

  1. Individuals who use another person as a nominee to subscribe for the shares, or be registered as the holder of them, on their behalf, are treated as themselves being the subscriber.
  2. Individuals who invest jointly with others, with the result that the subscribers are in law acting as bare trustees (whether for themselves or for others), are themselves as individual beneficiaries treated as being the subscribers.

Mr Investor can therefore form a bare trust with his friends (as in point 2) in order to make a direct investment jointly. Where shares are issued to a bare trust on behalf of a number of beneficiaries, each beneficiary is treated as having subscribed, as an individual, for the total number of shares issued to the bare trustees divided by the number of beneficiaries. This creates an important limitation in that each of the three friends should invest an equal percentage in Wonderful Ltd.

Paperwork

Wonderful Ltd should provide each subscriber form EIS3 showing the total number of shares subscribed for on Page 1 of the form.  Form EIS3 Page 3 should show the amount on which each owner is entitled to claim the tax relief for the shares, that is the fractional amount of the total subscribed.

Tax Relief?

Whilst joint investment does not preclude EIS tax relief, Mr Investor and his associates must of course check that all the other EIS eligibility criteria are met for EIS tax relief to apply. Mouktaris & Co can provide a checklist of questions to ask in order to determine whether tax relief under EIS is available to an investor in shares. The target company may produce an Advance Assurance document to potential investors demonstrating that HMRC accepts the investment under the scheme, however Advance Assurance will not tell you if an investor would meet the conditions of the scheme.

EIS Investment Funds

A different route (via point 1 above) would be for Mr Investor to invest via an EIS investment fund, which is structured as a nominee vehicle which invests funds in EIS-qualifying companies on behalf of investors. This vehicle would provide Mr Investor with a more diversified risk exposure to early-stage businesses, as his £25,000 investment would be spread across a number of target companies identified by the fund manager. Wonderful Ltd may seek to market its strengths to the EIS investment fund manager so as to be included in the fund’s equity holdings. So in fact Mr Investor could in the future invest in Wonderful Ltd through an EIS investment fund without necessarily being reliant on his friends’ capital.

EIS for Investors: Advantages

  1. As a reminder, EIS investors receive the following benefits as a result of participating in the scheme:
  2. A 30% income tax break against the amount invested
  3. No capital gains tax (CGT) to be paid on any profit arising from the sale of the shares, as long as they are held for at least 3 years
  4. Payment of CGT can be “rolled over” if the money gained is invested through EIS. The investment must be made 1 year before or 3 years after the gain occurred
  5. No inheritance tax is payable provided shares are held for at least 2 years
  6. If the shares are sold at a loss, the loss can be offset against any income tax in that year or the previous year

Whether you’re an existing client or don’t yet use our services, we would be pleased to help you. Contact Mouktaris & Co Chartered Accountants for expert advice or click here to subscribe to our Newsletter.

CJRS extended to 30 April 2021

In a partial repeat of the announcement made by the Chancellor on 5 November 2020, the government has announced extensions to the furlough scheme and three of its business loan schemes:

  • The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) has been extended by a further month to 30 April 2021. The furlough scheme will continue to pay 80% of wages up to £2,500 for the hours that furloughed or flexi-furloughed employees don’t work. Employers will pay employer National Insurance Contributions and pension contributions.
  • As a consequence, the Job Support Scheme has been deferred to start on 1 May 2021, from 1 April 2021.
  • Application deadlines for the Bounce Back Loan Scheme, Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme have been extended by a further two months to the end of March 2021.

Whether you’re an existing client or don’t yet use our services, we would be pleased to help you. Contact Mouktaris & Co Chartered Accountants for expert advice or click here to subscribe to our Newsletter.

Wealth Tax?

Calls for a wealth tax have so far been made with little impact, amid fears that a levy on assets would not go down well with conservative – or even not-so-conservative voters, and could hurt people with valuable homes but little cash. However, the Wealth Tax Commission said the timing was ripe for radical change due to the devastating impact of Covid on the public finances and on inequality in Britain.

The Wealth Tax Commission was established in Spring 2020 to ‘provide in-depth analysis of proposals for a UK wealth tax’. It’s not a government body, but a ‘think-tank’ funded by the London School of Economics, Warwick University and the Economic and Research Council (itself a public body). The Commissioners comprise a senior academic from the LSE and Warwick university and a very well-known tax barrister.

Whilst conclusions published last week may therefore not directly reflect government policy, they do propose an academic and practical solution to shore up public finances in these times of crisis – and should be afforded some serious attention. Readers may consult the full 126-page report here. For those with less time, the key points are below.

The report does not argue for the idea of an annual wealth tax. However, it’s strongly in favour of the levying of a wealth tax on a one-off basis to deal with an exceptional need – being that of repairing the alarming hole in public finances caused by coronavirus. The basic premise is therefore based not on redistribution but pragmatism – and the best place to get the money is from people who have it.

Interestingly, that pragmatism contrasts with the reasons that people who support the idea of wealth tax give for doing so: ‘filling a hole in public finances’ comes in only at fourth place, after ‘the gap between rich and poor is too large’; ‘the rich have got richer in recent years’; and ‘better to tax wealth rather than income from work’.

The report leans on a simplified design and implementation to maximise the efficacy of the tax – with the scope to avoid the net limited to such matters as redistribution, relocation or releveraging – all within a potentially short period of time.

How do the Commissioners propose a Wealth Tax should work?

  1. It should be levied at the same rate on all assets including the family home, businesses and pension funds. Special reliefs or exemptions would reduce the efficacy of the program by decreasing the yield, complicating the administration and affording opportunities for avoidance.
  2. It should be levied by reference to wealth as at a single ‘assessment date’ with only very limited scope for reassessment or revision of the tax should there subsequently be a dramatic fall in value.
  3. There would be the option to pay the tax over five years, with further deferral possible in defined circumstances of illiquidity. Payment of tax in respect of pension fund wealth would automatically be deferred until retirement.
  4. There should be little or no advance warning of the implementation of the tax, so as to minimise the effect of ‘forestalling’ or advance planning.
  5. The tax should, broadly, be levied on people who are tax-resident in the UK on the ‘assessment date’ and by references to assets whether in the UK or overseas. But special rules would apply to both recent arrivals in the UK and to people who had left the UK shortly before the ‘assessment date’.
  6. Non-residents would be liable only in respect of UK real property.
  7. Trust assets would be included if the settlor or a beneficiary was UK-resident at the ‘assessment date’.
  8. The assets of minor children would be aggregated with those of parents. Spouses and civil partners could elect to be taxed as a unit.
  9. At thresholds of £500,000, £1m and £2m per person, a wealth tax would respectively cover 17%, 6%, and 1% of the adult population. An illustrative rate of 1% at a threshold of £1 million per household (assuming two individuals with £500,000 each) would raise £260 billion over five years after administrative costs.

Whether you’re an existing client or don’t yet use our services, we would be pleased to help you. Contact Mouktaris & Co Chartered Accountants for expert advice or click here to subscribe to our Newsletter.

Letter of Confirmation of Residence

It can be daunting going to work in a foreign country, or coming to work in the UK. Understanding how tax and social security are affected by making such a move can add to the list of complexities you have to deal with.

CONFIRMING UK TAX RESIDENCE

As a new UK resident, foreign tax authorities are often forthcoming with their requests for proof of UK tax residence. The tax authority in Greece for example may require a former resident of Greece to prove that he or she is now regarded by HMRC as a resident of the UK. Customers may also want HMRC to confirm that they are regarded as UK resident so that they can claim relief from foreign taxes which they might be entitled to under the domestic law of the foreign state rather than under the terms of the UK’s DTA with that other state.

Our personal tax desk at Mouktaris & Co is thoroughly versed in the process of obtaining proof of UK tax residence. As a first step, it’s important to distinguish what exactly is required.

LETTER OF CONFIRMATION OF RESIDENCE VS CERTIFICATE OF RESIDENCE (COR)

A Letter of Confirmation of Residence is confirmation that the taxpayer is regarded by HMRC as a resident of the UK for purposes other than claiming relief from foreign taxes under the terms of a Double Taxation Agreement (DTA).

The worked required to obtain a Certificate of Residence (CoR) on the other hand is more involved and will require the taxpayer to outline the following:

  • why a CoR is needed
  • the double taxation agreement under which a claim is sought
  • the type of income under which a claim is sought and the relevant income article
  • the period for which the CoR is needed

TAX RESIDENCE WHEN COMING TO THE UK, OR LEAVING THE UK

Having moved to the UK, an overseas assignment may turn out to be a permanent move; similarly a stint abroad may be intended for a finite length of time. In any case the length and timing of one’s time spent outside the UK, any return visits made to the UK and what personal ties are maintained with the UK are important. These factors will determine tax residence when coming to the UK in the year of arrival, or leaving the UK in the year of departure. The taxation of residents and non-residents is very different.

  • The starting point is the Statutory Residence Test (SRT), in which you are either UK resident or non-resident for the whole tax year. Provided that you continue to meet the Statutory Residence Test conditions in any given tax year (6 April – 5 April), you are considered UK or non-UK resident.
  • If however during a tax year you start to live or work abroad, or come to the UK, then ‘split year treatment’ may apply. There are 8 cases where the criteria for ‘split year treatment’ can be met:
    1. Starting full time work overseas
    2. The partner of someone starting full time work overseas. Under UK law, spouses and civil partners are generally treated entirely separately for tax purposes. This means that the tax residence position of your spouse or civil partner needs to be considered based on his or her own facts and circumstances. However, in some cases it can be influenced by your own tax residence position.
    3. Ceasing to have a home in the UK
    4. Starting to have a home in the UK only
    5. Starting full time work in the UK
    6. Ceasing full time work overseas
    7. The partner of someone ceasing full time work overseas
    8. Starting to have a home in the UK
  • Where the conditions are met this splits the tax year into 2 parts:
    • A UK part for which you are UK resident, in which you are charged to tax as a UK resident
    • An overseas part for which you are non-resident, in which, for most purposes, you are charged to tax as a non-UK resident. ‘Split year treatment’ however does not affect whether you are regarded as UK resident for the purposes of a double taxation agreement.

ADVISING ON TAX RESIDENCE IN THE YEAR OF ARRIVAL OR LEAVING

Based on the above and in order to advise properly, it’s important to:

  1. understand one’s motivations for leaving or coming to the UK, under one of the 8 cases above;
  2. clarify one’s intended leaving or arrival date and the conditions and constraints for spending time in and out of the UK during the tax year;
  3. appreciate and quantify the repercussions of not achieving ‘split year treatment’ in a particular tax year both in terms of UK and non-UK taxation, and subsequently identify what would be required to achieve non-UK-residence status in the subsequent tax year

Whether you’re an existing client or don’t yet use our services, we would be pleased to help you. Contact Mouktaris & Co Chartered Accountants for expert advice or click here to subscribe to our Newsletter.

Trading in Goods post Brexit

For many, Brexit continues to be the undefined, being negotiated by the unprepared, in order to get the unspecified, for the uninformed. For others, Boris Johnson’s hard-knuckled talk, timed to boil down to deadline day, represents the dominant strategy that always had to be played against a fiercely rigid opposition- one that also risks losing out, albeit less than the protagonist.

In this post we will focus on practical examples of trading in goods post Brexit on 1 January 2021, paying special attention to taxation.

IMPORTER OF EU GOODS

Dom is a spectacles retailer based in England. Some of the spectacles he sells are purchased from a Spanish supplier called Ojos. What will be the difference between shipments arriving after 1 January 2021 compared to now?

In short, all imports of goods arriving into the country will be subject to import VAT and potentially customs duty. Traders will require an EORI number to move goods between the UK and non-EU countries.

Import VAT and Postponed Accounting
Concerning VAT, there will be no difference in Dom importing goods from an EU or non-EU country. “Postponed accounting” will be available for all imports made by a VAT registered business- that is for both EU and non-EU imports. Postponed accounting means Dom will declare and recover import VAT on the same VAT Return, rather than having to pay it upfront and recover it later. This is a cash-flow benefit for businesses that previously imported from outside the EU where VAT was paid on arrival and later claimed as input tax on a VAT return up to three months later. Import VAT certificate (C79) will no longer be issued, but can instead be downloaded from the HMRC website.

Dom does not need to apply to use postponed VAT accounting: it can be requested automatically when the shipment arrives. If however Dom deregisters, VAT on future imports would be paid at the time of arrival in the UK and become an exra business cost.

Customs Duty
From 1 January 2021, Dom will need to make customs declarations when he imports goods from the EU. In some situations, you can delay making a declaration for up to 6 months after you imported the goods. For controlled goods such as alcohol and tobacco however, a declaration must be made when the goods arrive. You may want to get someone to deal with customs for you or find a customs provider to help you.
A comprehensive set of actions for goods importers can be revised by visiting gov.uk, including finding out whether you can use postponed VAT accounting and checking the rate of customs duty and VAT on imports.

Instrastat
For UK businesses that buy goods from EU suppliers exceeding £1.5m, intrastat declarations must continue to be completed in 2021 for arrivals of goods from the EU. For dispatches from the UK, the intrastat reporting obligations only apply to goods being ‘exported’ from Northern Ireland to any EU VAT registered customers in case a threshold of £250,000 is exceeded.

EXPORTS

Back to Dom, he has received an order from a consumer based in Germany for a pair of spectacles. Until 31 December 2020, Dom will ship it to the customer and charge UK VAT at 20%. If Dom sells more than €100,000 of goods into Germany in a calendar year, to non-VAT registered customers, he must register for VAT in Germany and charge 19% German VAT on future sales. This is the essence of the “distance selling threshold” rules.

From 1 January 2021, the situation changes. First, the distance selling rules become obsolete, as the UK is no longer part of the EU. Instead, any shipments of goods from a UK supplier will be subject to VAT and duty when they arrive in the other EU country, so 19% VAT plus duty in the case of Germany. Dom’s sales will be zero rated for UK VAT purposes, in the same way that exports of goods to non-EU countries are zero rated.

This may pose a commercial and competitive hurdle for Dom. If before 1 January 2021 Dom bought spectacles from Ojos in Spain for £50 and applied a mark-up of 100% plus VAT for his sales, he will charge £120 for a business-to-consumer sale in Germany. If after 31 December 2020 Dom now pays customs duty of say 5% when the goods are imported from Spain to the UK, this will yield a cost of sales figure of £52.50 and therefore a selling price of £105. The export to the German consumer will now be zero rated for UK VAT but subject to German VAT and customs duty when it arrives there. If the import duty was 10%, with the VAT added on top, this would yield a final selling price of around £137, that is £105 plus £10.50 duty and 19% VAT on £115.50.

Warehouses in Europe
Like Dom, there is the possibility that clients could face a double duty charge on goods arriving into the UK from an EU supplier and then shipped out to the EU again. An EU warehouse may be an option in this scenario, obtaining a local VAT number to buy and sell goods from there. The challenge is for each business to consider its supply chain and where optimal trading outcomes may lie. Afterall some goods that are standard rated in the UK might be subject to reduced VAT rates in other EU countries. And some goods will be duty free to help the position further.

OTHER VAT SCHEMES

Triangulation
Triangulation is another important VAT simplification that may be lost after Brexit. UK companies currently relying on triangulation in order to avoid the need to register for VAT in an EU Member State, will also need to assess their position. Such arrangements will no longer be available, and this may result in multiple VAT registration requirements.

Margin schemes
Margin schemes involve goods, such as the second-hand margin schemes. In October 2020, HMRC issued a policy paper ‘Accounting for VAT on goods moving between Great Britain and Northern Ireland from 1 January 2021‘. The paper suggests that margin schemes will remain available for sales of goods that are purchased in Northern Ireland or the EU, whether sold to customers in Northern Ireland, Great Britain or the EU. On the contrary, margin schemes will not usually apply for sales in Northern Ireland where the stock is purchased in Great Britain.

DUTY FREE

Concerning us all, the Treasury has published its policy decisions regarding duty free shopping carried by passengers across borders:

  • duty-free shopping will be extended to include EU countries;
  • tax-free sales in airports of goods, such as electronics and clothing, for passengers travelling to non-EU countries will end; and
  • VAT refunds for overseas visitors in British shops will be removed and replaced by a buy-and-ship mechanism.

WHEN MIDNIGHT STRIKES

All the while it is worth remembering that a sub-plot continues to develop in the guise of late-in-the-day Brexit negotiations, akin to booking a GP appointment for a patient(s?) approaching life-support. A free trade agreement post-Brexit is not the whole solution for UK traders. Many of the practical issues of moving goods will not be resolved by a free trade agreement. A free trade agreement will not remove the obligation to submit customs declarations for example, therefore problems with who is legally permitted to make declarations on export and import will arise. A deal would provide for tariff-free trade on goods that qualify as EU or UK made, helping cushion the blow for sensitive sectors including automotive and agriculture. It would also include other measures to help trade flow — recognition of truckers’ permits for example. Most trade experts agree it would be better than nothing.

HOW TO PREPARE FOR BREXIT – CHECKLIST

We would urge our clients to visit gov.uk/action-2021 for a step-by-step revision on how your business may be affected.

The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales has prepared a quick-start guide, outlining a variety of areas that could impact your business post Brexit, to help you prepare for when the transition period has ended. 10 questions to ask include:

  1. Where will you get more cash, if you need it?
  2. What help do you need to access potential new markets?
  3. Have EU/EEA/Swiss-national employees registered for the settlement scheme?
  4. How would additional customs duties affect your sales and supply chain?
  5. Are you ready for customs? VAT and customs duty requirements from 1 January 2021
  6. Can you benefit from simplified import procedures?
  7. How will your principal contracts be affected by Brexit?
  8. Do you receive personal data from the EU/EAA?
  9. How will changes to VAT affect you?
  10. Do your corporate reports reflect Brexit risk?

Whether you’re an existing client or don’t yet use our services, we would be pleased to help you. Contact Mouktaris & Co Chartered Accountants for expert advice or click here to subscribe to our Newsletter.

Trading in Services post Brexit

To start off with some good news, the rules for services will largely remain unchanged after 1 January 2021- as things stand.

Trading in services with the EU can be categorised into three broad scenarios which will cover most UK traders.

Sales of business to business (B2B) services

The general B2B rule (VAT Notice 741A) stipulates that if the customer is outside the UK and in business, no UK VAT is charged on the services in question. The one change come 1 January 2021 concerns EU sales lists, which will not need to be completed.

Practically, it would still be wise to show the EU customer’s VAT number on the sales invoice, because it’s the best evidence of a B2B deal (though there are other source documents). Afterall it is the B2B outcome which means the place of supply is the customer’s country, thereby making the supply “outside the scope” of UK VAT.

Buying services from EU suppliers

The status quo is that a VAT-registered UK business that buys services from abroad must apply the “reverse charge”. This applies to supplies not just from the EU. After 31 December 2020, nothing is planned to change.

Where the reverse charge applies to services which you receive, you, the customer, must act as if you are both the supplier and the recipient of the services. You simply credit your VAT account with an amount of output tax, calculated on the full value of the supply you’ve received, and at the same time debit your VAT account with the input tax to which you’re entitled, in accordance with the normal rules. If you can attribute the input tax due under the reverse charge to your taxable supplies (and so can reclaim it in full) then the reverse charge has no net cost to you. This tends to be the case if you are in business. If you cannot attribute the input tax due the effect is to make you pay VAT on the supply at the UK rate. This puts you in the same position as if you had received the supply from a UK supplier rather than from one outside the UK.

Sales of business to consumer (B2C) services

The general rule is that VAT is charged based on the location of the supplier, as opposed to of the customer with B2B. So if a UK accountant completes a tax return for a private individual living in France, the fee will be subject to 20% UK VAT. Where a B2C customer resides outside the EU, say in Canada, most professional services are not subject to UK VAT. The services for which this rule applies are listed in VATA 1994, Sch 4A para 16 and VAT Notice 741A, paragraph 12.

One consideration for these late-in-the-day Brexit negotiations is whether legislation will be passed to remove the difference between selling services to an EU versus a non-EU consumer. As things stand and per the HMRC press announcement, following 31 December 2020 no VAT will be charged on B2C services supplied to EU customers under UK VAT law for the professional services in question. So the accountant will no longer charge UK VAT to their B2C customer in France. The only way this would change is if the French tax authorities introduced a “use and enjoyment” rule for B2C accountancy services, so that work for customers living in France would be subject to French VAT.

Use and enjoyment rules

The use and enjoyment rules are intended to make sure taxation takes place where services are consumed, where either services are consumed within the UK but would otherwise escape VAT, or they would be subject to UK VAT when consumed outside the UK and EU.

Effective use and enjoyment takes place where a recipient actually consumes services irrespective of the contractual arrangements, payment or beneficial interest. The services covered by these rules are:

  • the letting on hire of goods (including means of transport)
  • electronically supplied services (B2B only)
  • telecommunications services (B2B only)
  • repairs to goods under an insurance claim (B2B only)
  • radio and television broadcasting services

By way of example, consider a Canadian based videographer (in business) who tours the UK to video the Lake District, for a Canadian broadcaster. The Canadian videographer has hired a camcorder from a UK shop for a fee of £3,000. Under the general B2B rule, no UK VAT is charged on that sum- the place of supply being Canada- but now the use and enjoyment rules means that the place of supply reverts to the UK, where the camcorder is being used. He will be charged £600 VAT by the shop. This is the position that will take effect from 1 January 2021, for any businesses based outside the UK, including EU countries.

Whether you’re an existing client or don’t yet use our services, we would be pleased to help you. Contact Mouktaris & Co Chartered Accountants for expert advice or click here to subscribe to our Newsletter.

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